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How to Develop Essential Business Skills

By DeVry University

May 10, 2021
5 min read

Whether you want to enhance your understanding of business to become a meaningful contributor in your workplace, pursue a career as a corporate leader or wish to be your own boss as an entrepreneur, developing essential business skills may serve you well throughout your career. These transferable skills can apply to nearly all industries and they can help set the stage for your future. Here is what you need to know.

What Are the Most Important Business Skills?

While the most important business skills may vary by industry and even by an individual employer, it’s always an excellent idea to master the basics. These include such general business principles as:

Analytical Reasoning

No matter what area of business you enter, analytical reasoning skills are always needed. In nearly any role, you will be called upon to identify problems, assess information and select and implement decisions. A key aspect of this is leadership. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes you may need to develop a vision and persuade others to follow your plans, while at other times you might need to work with others to reach consensus.

Budgeting and Financial Forecasting

If you can learn to design and follow a budget, as well as make long-range financial forecasts, this deeper financial knowledge may help you as you progress in your career. An easy way to understand the difference is that a budget is typically set for a year, based on such factors as cash flow, expenses and revenue. A financial forecast is a higher-level tool that allows companies to plan future growth.

Business Technology

In today’s world, successful business leaders understand the complex interplay between different parts of a business and how technology impacts departments and interdepartmental relationships.

Computer Applications

Nearly all businesses today, regardless of size or industry, run on computers. While you don’t necessarily need to delve into computer science, you should become familiar with the most commonly used software solutions. This includes such basics as Microsoft Office or software packages that are standard in your industry.

Data Analysis

Big data is giving companies unprecedented insight into their consumers, including their purchasing habits and how they make decisions. Not all successful business leaders are data analytics pros, but you should learn to use common tools to gather and analyze basic customer data, and to use what you discover to make business decisions.

Financial Accounting

Accounting records and financial statements are key to understanding the health of any company. Businesses may hire outside professionals including CPAs and tax attorneys to handle their financial paperwork, but at a minimum, it’s important to understand the basics.


Management is the ability to put together all the various aspects of running a business to smoothly guide day-to-day operations and growth. Managers need skills in the technical aspects of business, such as budgeting, supply chains and data analysis, as well as in the human aspects of business, such as employee scheduling, human resources and team member development.


You may have the best company in your industry, but if no one knows about it, your business will struggle to succeed. Marketing includes not only advertising but also market research, public relations and corporate branding. You don’t necessarily need to become a marketing expert, but strong business professionals understand how marketing works and can develop basic marketing campaigns to promote their business and products.

Benefits of Developing Essential Business Skills

Developing important business skills can help you set yourself apart from the crowd. Even entry-level positions in many industries often call for such basic skills as entering data into spreadsheets, working with customers and solving problems. As you move up the career ladder, you may be expected to lead a team, design and follow a departmental budget and utilize data to make decisions.

In addition, business skills are essential for those who are interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Whether you’re launching an IT firm, opening a restaurant or providing consulting services, you will need these basic skills to set up and sustainably grow your company.

Essential business skills can even serve you well in your personal life. Sticking to a budget, negotiating big purchases, working with technology and using common accounting tools are helpful skills no matter how you earn your income.

Start with a Business Credential

Although there are many ways to build your business skills, earning a business degree or certificate can be a great choice. Not only can you add it to your resume, but the hands-on experience gained throughout your education can help prepare you for real-world business situations that you may face in your current and future roles.

Progress at Your Pace

At DeVry University, our business credentials are stackable. You can get started with an online undergraduate certificate in Business Essentials, which takes as little as eight months.1 With qualifying transfer credits, military training or professional experience, you may be able to earn your certificate even faster.

When you decide to continue your education, you can apply all of your courses toward a related associate or bachelor’s degree at DeVry, giving you credit for what you’ve accomplished thus far.

Ready to Build Your Business Skills?

Essential business skills never go out of style and they may be just what you need to prepare to pursue the next steps in your career. At DeVry, we’re committed to your success. From academic tutoring to personalized faculty mentoring, we’ll utilize the full extent of our resources to support you as you take the next steps toward your future. Our classes start every 8 weeks, so contact us today to get started.

1Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment. Additional program information may be found on our Degree Programs page.

8-Week Class Sessions

Classes Start Every 8 Weeks

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